change vs agents of change…story theory 101…

i participated in a writing workshop this morning…these can be either dreary affairs or enervating experiences…kind of a crap shoot…hence my general reluctance to take part in them…i find it hinges mostly on the instructor…luckily this was associated with The Lighthouse…which is always an indication of high quality…and it was helpful in many different ways…

although…

i have a problem with the standard approach to storytelling that insists the central character must be transformed or redeemed somehow by the events of the story…a point of view presented at this morning’s event…

my first problem with this is it’s boring, boring, boring…three acts laden with obstacles to the protagonist’s central desire requiring him/her to learn some valuable life lesson in order to become a more fully realized human being…this has been the central structure to every trite cliched story since…well, since forever…

second, experience has taught me that this is not the norm for human nature…most people do not change…most people will resist change unto death…recent history is an excellent example…
some of the most enduring stories and characters in human history deal with characters that don’t change…Galahad, Holmes, Shane, Bond, McGee…and these are fascintating characters with dimension and depth…

what do i know…i’m just an unpublished nobody…

we’ll see…

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4 comments
  1. echolage said:

    Hay, I'm going to put my thoughts about Lighthouse to you briefly. I've taken two classes and one workshop with them and found that some of their teaching is too formulaic. In the short story class my piece was criticized by the teacher because I did not go into details about the protagonists relationship with her parents (who were not in the story). On the other hand I found the novel writing workshop to be great, of course that was due to the teacher and the students, although I can't say it was very "useful" for my writing as we only got to share our work once over eight weeks. Okay got that out take it as you may.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Glad you attended, James. Just for clarification, I don't believe that a character needs to learn a life lesson. Far from it. He or she could be deeply damaged and angry and shut off at the end. I was trying (poorly) to say that characters need movement, positive or negative. We could have spent two hours on this topic alone, and I'm sure we could have gotten a lot deeper into examples, exercises, etc. Sorry about that! I hope I'll see you in Lighthouse classes in the future. Best,Bill

  3. JP said:

    thanks for responding Bill…to be honest, for the purposes of this venue, I probably oversimplfied you position…and, your workshop, which I enjoyed, was probably not the best venue for an in depth discussion about story theory…I'll buy you a glass of your favorite adult beverage and maybe we can hash it out…

  4. Anonymous said:

    I should have made a distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction… But I'm watching Moonraker right now–James Bond just changed–he went from attacking a woman to kissing her. =-)

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